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New York State sues PepsiCo over plastic pollution in Buffalo River

New York State sued PepsiCo for polluting one of its rivers with plastic bottles and packaging.

The lawsuit accuses the soft drink company and its Frito-Lay subsidiaries of creating a public nuisance by mass producing single-use items, some of which inevitably fall or fly into the Buffalo River when discarded.

The lawsuit alleges that PepsiCo has harmed the environment, saying it is partly responsible for waste that ends up in the water supplying the city of Buffalo with drinking water.

The suit was filed in state Supreme Court by Attorney General Letitia James, who said, “No company is too big to ensure that its products do not harm our environment and public health.”

“All New Yorkers have a fundamental right to clean water, but PepsiCo’s irresponsible packaging and marketing endanger Buffalo’s water supply, environment and public health.”

The Attorney General’s Office noted that a 2022 investigation named PepsiCo as the largest identifiable contributor to Plastic waste in the Buffalo River.

The study found that of 1,916 pieces of plastic waste containing an identifiable brand, 17.1% were produced by PepsiCo. McDonalds was a distant second.

The lawsuit links plastic waste to the prevalence of microplastics, which are pieces less than 5mm in length and could be harmful to human health if ingested.

Mrs. James, a Democratwants PepsiCo to warn its customers of the potential health and environmental risks linked to its packaging.

New York Attorney General Letitia James. Photo: AP

The lawsuit also wants the court to force the company to develop a plan to keep its packaging out of the Buffalo River, and seeks financial penalties and restitution.

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PepsiCo, headquartered in New York’s Westchester County, said in a statement that it takes “plastic reduction and effective recycling seriously.”

He did not comment directly on the lawsuit’s assertion that he was legally responsible for keeping waste out of the Buffalo River.

Last week, Coca-Cola, Danone and Nestlé have been accused of misleading claims about the number of recycled plastics they use.

Lawyers have complained to the European Commission that companies’ claims that their single-use plastic bottles are either 100% recycled or 100% recyclable are not accurate.

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